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Criminal Trial and the Roles of the Major Participants Kaplan University Patricia Pryor CJ227
The Sixth Amendment in the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial. This right ensures the defendant that the prosecutors can not wait an extremely large amount of time before filing charges. In order to help the Sixth Amendment Congress passed the federal Speedy Trial Act, which requires that a trial begin within 70 days of the prosecutor filing the indictment.Also, part of the Sixth Amendment guarantees the defendant a right a public trial by an impartial jury of one's peers. The jury is selected by allowing both sides to exercise peremptory challenges during the selection process. If one sides uses the peremptory challenge against a prospective juror the juror is then asked to leave that particular panel. This happens during voir dire in an attempt to root out discrimination. With peremptory challenges neither party must justify their reasons for a challenge, but they cannot strike a jury due to that particular persons race or gender as describe in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986) (prohibiting race-based challenges); J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127 (1994) (prohibiting gender-based challenges).
Key Players in Court Judge- A judge is who presides in the courtroom. When a case is tried before a jury, the judge is then the person whom rules on points of law and instructs the jury when needed. The information that is given to the jury is information that governs the case. This information is what the jury uses to determine the facts based on the evidence it hears. During cases that there is no jury it is then up to the judge to determine the facts and decide the verdict. Court Clerk- A court clerk is also known as the bailiff this is the person that administers the oath to the jurors and witnesses. They are also in charge of physical exhibits introduced as evidence and other administrative tasks.
Key Players in Court Court reporter- The role of the court reporter is to record everything in verbatim. Everything that is mentioned is part of the formal courtroom proceeding. These proceedings include the testimony of witnesses, objections made by lawyers, and the judge's ruling on those objections. Also used are audio or audio visual tapes these are most commonly seen during misdemeanor trials. In some states, both methods are used and if there is an appeal the reporter's records are used. Lawyer- The lawyer on both sides of the court is also officers of the court. The job of a lawyer is to represent the clients zealously following the rules of the Code of Professional Conduct. This is to ensure that justice be achieved if both sides of the case is rigorously presented by competent legal counsel.
The makings of a jury A jury pool is a list compiled by the court, this method of selection varies. In some states, it is compiled from voter registration or driver license lists. A prospective juror will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. The information that is given in the questionnaire is used by the court and the lawyers in order to obtain a competent and impartial jury. A jury is made up of six to twelve people that were selected from the jury pool. The size of the jury depends on which states the case is being tried. It is common for a civil litigation in limited jurisdictions to have only six jurors and sometimes in a misdemeanor case there are fewer than twelve jurors, but more serious criminal cases usually are required to have twelve. Alternate jurors are selected to take the place of a juror who may become ill during trial. The alternate juror hears the evidence but does not participate in the deliberations unless they are replacing an original juror. A jury is selected by a court clerk calling out twelve people those people then take their places. The judge then makes a brief statement explaining what kind of case is being tried and whether or not a juror may not be able to perform. The judge and or the lawyers then ask them questions about whether they have information about the case or if they have any inclination. This is known as voir dire, to speak the truth.
The makings of a jury If the lawyers on either side believed there is information to suggest any form of bias about the case, they can then ask the judge to dismiss the juror for each attorney may seek the dismissal of an unlimited number of jurors for cause. These requests are not guaranteed to be granted by the judge. In addition to challenges for cause, each side is allowed a certain number of peremptory challenges. These allow a lawyer to excuse a juror without cause. After both sides agree on a jury, the jurors are then sworn in by the bailiff, those not selected are ask to leave.
Opening statements Opening statements are crucial to both sides of a case, an opening statement will help clarify the information that will be used to determine the defendant is either guilty or innocent. Opening statement must consist of facts only, that can be proven by the evidence without being argumentative. Opening statement starts with the individual who has the burden of proof. This is the person who brought the case to court, this would be the prosecution in a criminal case. After the prosecution the defense will then begin with their statement. In some states the defense is able to hold their opening statement till the end of court or either party can choose not to use an opening statement. During a criminal case the burden of proof is with the prosecution, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. It is not the defendants responsibility to prove his or her innocence.
Evidence Evidence is one of the most influential factors in a case. There are two different types of evidence, direct and circumstantial. Direct Evidence is considered to speak for itself such as an eyewitness account, a confession, or a weapon. Circumstantial Evidence is evidence that suggest the facts by implying or inferring from the crime scene, testimony that suggests a link, physical evidence that suggests a crime, testimony that suggests a connection. Both direct and circumstantial evidence are part of a trial. Evidence can be offered as oral testimony of a witness or physical exhibits such as fingerprints, test results, and documents.
Evidence can begin to be presented during the case, at this time both defendant and plaintiff will question witnesses through direct examination. Witnesses are able to testify to fact, and for certain things mere opinions, if the witnesses are experts or qualified to do so. They can also identify documents or pictures that are part of the case evidence. Both sides are not able to ask leading questions, this would be considered prompting the witness. Objections can be raised by the opposing counsel for different possibilities, the judge will either sustain or overrule. If the objection is sustained the lawyer must put the question in another form or ask another question. Witness questioning
Prosecutor is whom represents the government it is also known as the District Attorney, State Attorney, U.S. Attorney, Attorney General, Solicitor General, or Special Prosecutor. The prosecutor will investigate offenses and will request government officers to do so. A prosecutor may investigate certain criminal offenses on his own initiative, or at the request of a government officer or government body. The prosecutor will work with law enforcement during the investigation to review if charges should be filed. The prosecutor must ensure there is sufficient evidence because they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by the defense. The Prosecutor will also negotiate plea bargains with the defense counsel, this is an agreement where the defendant will plea guilty for a reduction of charges or a lenient sentencing. During the trial prosecutors will question witnesses and cross examine defense witnesses. They can call upon experts, forensics, also the victims or victims family. The prosecutor can also subpoenas people in order to commands the presence of a witness to testify. Prosecutors role
Purpose of defense When the plaintiff has completed its evidence they will announce that they rest. At this point the defense can ask for a motion to dismiss charges, arguing that the government did not prove their case. The judge will then either grant or deny the motion, if granted the defense wins and if denied the defense will then begin to present its case. The role of a defense attorney is to represent their clients by using the principals of law. They attorney must convince the judge or jury that their client is legally not at fault. The defense must also be sure to make the client aware of issues that arise during a court case and provide legal options for example a plea bargain. After the plaintiff has completed its questioning of the witness, the defense may cross-examine. This is done by asking questions that were raised during direct examination. Leading questions are allowed at this time, because the defense is trying to test the credibility of the witness. This is done by questioning the witness to test the ability to identify or remember information or to try and impeach the witness or evidence. During cross examination the opposing counsel may object to any questioning that violates the state’s laws. The defense may or may not present evidence depending on the case and what the plaintiff has offered as evidence. When presenting evidence it is done in the same manner as the government and the plaintiff has the right to cross-examine the defense witnesses. Re-direct and re-cross examination is allowed. After the defense has rested the plaintiff may then rebuttal witnesses or evidence to refute evidence. The defendant may or may not take the stand, the defendant is protected under the Fifth Amendment which protects against self-incrimination. The jury can not take into account that the defendant did not take the stand.
Closing arguments Closing arguments or summations will discuss the evidence, the lawyers will not be able to talk about issues outside the case or evidence that was not presented. The lawyers are allowed to comment on instructions that the judge will give the jury. The prosecuting lawyer usually goes first, they will sum up the evidence and talk about how the evidence shows the defendant is guilty. The defense will then presents its closing statement, their job will be to show the prosecutions case does not show the burden of proof needed to convict. They will show the evidence proves their client is innocent. Since the prosecution has the burden of proof they are entitled to a rebuttal, and can respond to the defendants points and appeal one more time to the jury.
Jury deliberation When the trial begins the judge asks the jurors' to listen to evidence without drawing a premature conclusion. They are told not to discuss the case with anyone not even each other until deliberations. After both sides have presented their case, the judge will then inform the jury on how to reach a verdict, within the guidelines of the relevant laws. The instructions are read to the jury, and the judge will announce the issues in the case and define any terms or words that the jury may not know. The judge will discuss the standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case and preponderance of evidence in a civil case. The judge will advise the jury that is the sole judge of the credibility of witnesses. The jurors are asked to determine the facts and the law as determined by the judge. When the jury receives their instructions from the judge, they return to the jury room and being the deliberation process. During this time, the jury will select the foreperson.
trial motions After evidence and before the verdict either side may move for a directed verdict. If this granted the trial is considered over, if not the trial continues and then will be submitted to the jury. There are many times before and after a verdict where a motion will be permitted, motions permitted after a verdict is read, differs from each state. Some of those motions are a motion in arrest of judgment, a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and a motion for a new trial
verdict When the jury reaches a decision they will notify the bailiff, which then notifies the judge. Everyone involved will then return to the courtroom and the decision will be announced. This will be done by the foreperson or the court clerk. The possible verdicts are guilty or not guilty. Afterwards the lawyers may request to poll the jury, the jurors will be asked if they agree with the decision as announced. This is done so to make sure the verdict is the actual true and correct. After the decision is announced, and accepted by the court the jury is dismissed and the trial is over. This decision of the jury will not take effect until the judge enters a judgment and an order is filed in public records.
Sentencing If convicted of a crime the judge will set a date for sentencing. Before that a pre-sentence investigation will take place to determine the appropriate sentence. Pre-sentencing will investigate the defendants prior criminal record, family situation, health, work record, and other factors. Most times it is only the judge that can impose the sentence, a death penalty is imposed by a jury. All courts have a federal guidelines to guide judges in appropriate sentences following all statutory minimums and maximums. After sentencing the person will be incarceration or placed under probation. They may also be required to pay fines or restitution. Also the convicted person is protected under the Eighth Amendment which protects them from excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishment.
Factors in sentencing Deterrence-Deterrence is the belief that few can discourage crime. This is a debatable issue. General deterrence is used to deter the general public from criminal conduct. Specific deterrence is to punish the offender in order to dissuade them from committing more crimes later. Incapacitation-Incapacitation helps keep criminal off the streets and away from the general public, removing them from society prevents them from committing more crimes as long as they are locked up. There is no doubt this prevents crime. Rehabilitation-Rehabilitation is the belief that you can help change an individual who committed the crime through corrections intervention. There are many programs that have been created to help rehabilitate criminals such as drug programs. Retribution-Retribution is the belief that belief that the punishment should fit the crime. The punishment should be just as harsh as the crime that was committed.
Appeals Cases are not always appealed, and it is not an automatic right. There must be a legal basis some sort of error had to occur during the trial. Criminal defendants convicted have the right to appeal on the state level and also can file a habeas corpus in federal courts if they want to show their federal rights were violated. Appeal is not allowing a new trial or retrial it is simple a review based on the same evidence and witnesses to show that there was an error during the trial’s procedures or errors in the judge’s perceptions of the law.
References alt.cimedia.com/ajc/campbelltrial/juryquestions.rtf 14 May 2010 CliffsNotes.com. Prosecutorial Discretion. 16 May 2010<http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/topicArticleId-10065,articleId-10015.html>. CliffsNotes.com. Theories of Punishment. 16 May 2010<http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/topicArticleId-10065,articleId-10039.html>.http://definitions.uslegal.com/p/prosecutor 10 May 2010